I originally posted this last year on St. Pat’s, and I still feel the same way. Enjoy my thoughts on Saint Patrick’s Day, Irishness, and green beer:
Happy Saint Patrick’s Day!
Now put down the dyed-green beer and listen up.
There was a time in my life when I would get bent out of shape at the idea of the green beer, corned beef and cabbage, and asinine “Kiss Me, I’m Irish” pins. That time has since passed.
In 2004, I had the distinct pleasure of going to Ireland with my blushing bride for our honeymoon. It was probably one of the happiest weeks of my life. We had a week of B&B vouchers, a rental car with unlimited miles, and no plans but to see where the road would take us. The narrow, winding roads took us to a beautiful old cemetery (or twelve) and cows grazing in the ruins of some ancient building or another. The roundabouts lead us to the weight of history and the lightness of a fair pint of Harp. The path we chose crossed with Ute, the super friendly German tourist, and Anne and Michael, lovely proprietors of the Gables B&B. The stops on the road were at Gaby’s in Killarney (home of the most delicious seafood I’ve ever had in my entire life) and some God-forsaken hotel in Kilkenny (where we were served “a selection of local farm cheeses.” I can only assume the local farm was located in Hell.) We ate and drank and breathed Ireland for a week on the wing.
And while a week was not nearly enough, I felt a connection to that place that has not faded in the past five-some years. Hell, the people there all look like I look and have names like my name. More than my surname or big head, though, is a feeling of kindred spirit. You see, the Irish take the good with the bad and smile all the while. Irish history is full of examples of this mentality; dance a jig at your best friend’s wake, for he’d surely dance one at yours.
And as much as the faux-Irishness of the American St. Patrick’s Day pains me sometimes, I do so enjoy the holiday. Because for every green-beer swilling wannabe hooligan drowned in hops and yeast, another chap is getting his first taste of Yeats. For every nasty plate of corned beef and cabbage, somewhere else is served a proper shepherd’s pie. As Murphy, from the movie Boondock Saints, put it, “…it’s St. Patty’s Day, everyone’s Irish tonight.” So put on your silly pin and your green clothes if you must. Hell, if you’re cute, I may even French you ’cause you’re Irish!